[MUSIC REVIEW] Esperanza

Most traditional and notable jazz artists are notoriously, eccentric characters that push the envelope and consistently make great albums. Stories can be told of jazz legends like Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, and Ella Fitzgerald, and as easy as you can name those artists you can name countless songs associated with them also. Although Esperanza Spalding can be placed in this category she’s a little different than your typical notable jazz musician. It’s very rare that someone like her has the talent level she does at the age of 23 and is able to display it in the ways that Esperanza does.

This Portland Oregon native, who is an accomplished violinist and double bass player, is by all accounts a musical protigee. Her first time picking up an instrument was at nine, and by the time she was sixteen she was enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College School of Music. She also went on to become the youngest proffesor in school history when she graduated and began to share as part of the school’s staff. These skills, along with the fact that she boasts the ability to sing and write, make Esperanza one of the brightest young talents to be embraced by the jazz music scene ever. Still virtually unknown to those outside of traditional jazz circles, Spalding has been catching fire by popping up at jazz music festivals and quiet television appearances such as her performance on the Tonight Show with She has been noted as a musical virtuoso who is willing to take risks and explore different influences as a creative tool to enhance her sound.

On her Heads Up label debut Esperanza, Ms. Spalding demonstrates her eclecticism by displaying styles ranging from samba, hard-driven jazz and R&B, to Caribbean and adult conteporary sounds all of which come together in a conglomerate of romantic stylized moods. Of the songs Spalding recorded for this album, each has some sort of quintessential origionality attached which a fresh perspective like no other album to date.

On “Precious” she playfully gives her account of a one-sided love affair, and her infectious vocal skills can also be taken in on notable tracks “I Adore You”, and “If That’s True” which features a soul inspiredsolo from saxophonist Donald Harrison. Esperanza also showcases “Ponta de Arela” , and “Cuerpo y Alma (Body and Soul)” , both of which display Spalding’s skills in a Latin voal light because all the lyrics are sang in fluent Portuguese. The latter song Body and Soul also is a jazz bechmark bieng highlighted by the piano of Leo Genovese, Otis Brown’s drums and Spalding’s bass.

Spalding’s instrumental and vocal prowess combined thoroughly makes Esperanza a very exciting embodiment of work. Esperanza the album can best be described as the best jazz album the world has never heard. Blessed with talent, youth, and outrageously good looks on her side Esperanza Spalding is poised to make a splash, not only in the jazz world, but music on the grand scale for years to come.

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